At least 12 people lost their lives in a motor accident at a market at Iworoko in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State on Saturday night. A mother, her child, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, students of the Ekiti State University, residents and traders were said to be among those who died in the accident. Four other people were injured and were rushed to the hospital.
It was learnt that the vehicle, a trailer, involved in the accident had a brake failure and lost control. The incident occurred about 8:45 p.m. The vehicle was said to be ferrying bags of rice with posters of a senatorial candidate of the Ondo State All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Tayo Alasoadura.
The trailer crashed three shops and a small commercial bus which had some passengers in the market in the centre of the town. Residents and students were charging their cell phones inside one of the shops, a barber’s shop. The industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) was said to have prevented more students of EKSU from falling victims of the accident. Residents said the market where the accident occurred used to be crowded with many students. A huge crowd of sympathisers trooped to the scene with some wailing while others were cursing profusely.
The trailer crushed a commercial vehicle called ‘Akoto’. Bags of rice bearing posters and pictures of Alasoadura, scattered all over the ground. An angry mob chased away a towing vehicle of the state transport office, saying that it had come too late to rescue the victims. The angry sympathisers stoned the vehicle, forcing the driver to drive off. They also made attempt to chase away the advance security team of the deputy governor but were intimidated by the presence of heavily armed security operatives.
The security operatives later brought the Deputy Governor, Bisi Egbeyemi, to the scene. Egbeyemi later addressed the chiefs and angry youths of the community. He said: “The state governor condoles with families of those who have lost dear ones. We pray for their souls to rest in peace. The government will also ensure that those who are wounded have their hospital bills paid for.
We will also take care of other things. “However, we appeal to our youths to calm down and not cause trouble. No one wishes for this kind of tragedy to happen. And no amount of anger and violence will bring back those dead. So let us be calm.” The deputy governor also visited the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital at Adebayo area of the state capital, where the bodies of the dead and others wounded were taken to. He told the doctors to begin urgent treatment of the wounded, assuring them that the bills would be paid by the state government.
The hospital management told journalists that 12 bodies of those who lost their lives in the accident, including students of EKSU, had been deposited at the state morgue while four wounded victims of the accident were receiving treatment in the hospital. Meanwhile, Governor Kayode Fayemi yesterday commiserated with the people of Iworoko Ekiti over the accident in the town which led to the death of about 12 people.
The governor, who had earlier directed his deputy, Egbeyemi, to pay a condolence visit to the community yesterday morning, said in a statement that he was saddened and devastated by the news of the accident. Noting that many lives had been lost to the recklessness of many trailer drivers, Fayemi said the government might be compelled to re-introduce some old laws and previous arrangements to deal with the menace. The governor said Ekiti State Traffic Management Agency (EKSTMA) would henceforth more rigid in its enforcement of street trading laws. He said market stalls were constructed in various local government areas to discourage street trading.
The governor added that the government would now accelerate completion of those markets and build new ones to avoid a repeat of the tragedies. Fayemi urged the community leaders and families of the victims to remain calm even as “we collectively mourn the death of our beloved ones in the unfortunate incident.” He said: “This is a huge tragedy and a painful experience, not only for the families of the victims but for all of us. “We share with the people of Iworoko and families of the victims the pain and sorrow of the unfortunate development. “Our prayer is that God will be with you during this painful period. “Government will also look at areas of support with a view to ameliorating the pains.”